Lafite-Rothschild's harvest began on September 20th and finished surprisingly late (especially in the Medoc), on October 7th. Only 55% of the harvest was deemed of high enough quality to be put in the final wine. The 1994 Lafite may contain the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon of any Lafite produced this century. The final blend includes 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit-Verdot, and 2% Merlot. I found it difficult to understand the 1994 Lafite. Certainly the color is about as dense as one would want from a top class, six month old Bordeaux, but the nose is tight, and the wine compressed, compact, and brutally tannic and impenetrable. I kept searching for an inner core of fruit on the mid-palate, without any luck. While sweet fruit is present, the wine is frightfully backward and tannic, thus Lafite's famed subtleness, finesse, and elegance are buried behind a wall of tannin. This should turn out to be an outstanding wine, but it will need 15+ years of cellaring. A more accurate assessment will only be possible after another year of cask aging. For now, I prefer the 1993 Lafite-Rothschild to the 1994. Drink: 2010.
As I wrote last year, Lafite's 1994 is the first 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine made at this estate. The only other wine that had such a high Cabernet content was the 1961. The 1994 is not an easy wine to figure out. I felt more positively about it this year than last, but it is an atypically powerful, ferociously tannic, frightfully backward Lafite that appears to require 15-20 years of cellaring before its huge tannin level will begin to melt away. The extraordinarily dense color saturation and intense ripeness undoubtedly suggest that something profound may well emerge from this wine in two decades. On the other hand, 20 years of aging could result in a marvelously well-constructed wine that remains hard, tough, and charmless. It's a gamble, but for readers who love Lafite and have the necessary income, it may be worth it. Although it appears even more backward than the 1986 Lafite, it possesses enough positive components to elicit considerable interest. For your children's children's children?All of the wines in this segment were tasted between March 19 and March 28 in Bordeaux. Most of the important wines from both the 1994 and 1995 vintages were tasted three separate times during my ten-day stay in Bordeaux. Drink: 2010.
Because Lafite-Rothschild (1) tends to lack the weight of many wines of the northern Medoc, and (2) is never a flashy, ostentatious style of wine, it is often more difficult to evaluate when young than some of its neighbors. Made from nearly 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, this dark ruby/purple-colored wine is stubbornly backward, unappealing, and severe and astringent on the palate. There is plenty of weight, and the wine possesses admirable purity, with no suggestion of herbaceousness or underripe fruit, but the wine's personality refuses to be coaxed from the glass. The 1994 Lafite may turn out to be austere and disappointing flavor-wise, but possesses a fabulous set of aromatics (does that sound reminiscent of the 1961, another Lafite that was primarily Cabernet Sauvignon?). I am not giving up on this wine, but purchasers should be willing to wait 15-20 years before pulling a cork. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2030.
One peek into Château Lafite's cellar is like entering into the 18th century. Its cobweb-coveredchandeliers subtly light shadowy corridors that play host to hundreds of ancient vintages. Nothing could be more representative of its wine making philosophy - classic, stylish and yet powerful - characteristics that have made it one of the most collectible wines in the world.
Due south of St Estèphe lies the appellation of Pauillac, the king of Left Bank communes. It is home to three first growths as well as a plethora of other classified growths. Pauillac's renowned well-draining, gravelly soils enable its dominant grape Cabernet Sauvignon to reach fantastic heights of complexity and concentration. As a result, Pauilac's wines tend to be full-bodied with compact tannins and good freshness. Its aromatics are often what one associates with classic Bordeaux: pencil shavings, black currant and occasional mint. Some of the most famous châteaux of the commune are Latour, Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild, Pichon Baron, Pichon Lalande and Lynch Bages.